No one will ever confuse Art Shell with the NFL’s headline-grabbing, chest-thumping coaches.

Shell doesn’t make bold predictions or performance guarantees. The Raider coach prefers to keep a low profile, or at least as low a profile as a coach in Los Angeles can maintain, and let his team do its talking on the field.

But even Shell has finally acknowledged, grudgingly, that this Raider team has the potential to be great.

He wouldn’t go as far as those who are projecting a Super Bowl berth, but asked if this might be the best of the six Raider teams he has coached, Shell said, “It has a chance. At the end of the year, we’ll sit down and talk about it.”


Shell’s best were the 1990 team, which got as far as the AFC championship game in Buffalo before being eliminated, and last year’s, which also made it to Buffalo and the second round of the playoffs before losing.

“They’re better,” Shell said of this year’s squad compared to last year’s at this stage. “More seasoned. We have new people who have raised the level. There’s no doubt we’re a better team than we were last year at this time.”

That’s a big concession for the conservative Shell, but he is hardly ordering Super Bowl rings.

“It’s got to be done on the football field, not by reading it in the newspapers,” he said. “We all have to beat Buffalo. I don’t care what anybody says, they are the defending AFC champions. And first and foremost, we have to win in this division.”



Defensive lineman Warren Powers, who suffered a finger injury at the start of training camp, has retired. . . . The Raiders have re-signed linebacker Keith Franklin, cut earlier. . . . Defensive lineman Chester McGlockton sat out practice because of the bruised leg he suffered Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, but Shell expects McGlockton to be practicing again before the end of the week.

Wide receiver Alexander Wright, who has sat out two games because of a pulled calf muscle, probably won’t play Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to Shell. . . . Offensive tackle Greg Skrepenak was excused from practice for personal reasons but will be back today.